Review: Graduation Day by Joelle Charbonneau

May Contain Spoilers

Yeah! I managed to knock another series off my TBR pile!  Graduation Day picks up right where Independent Study left off.  Cia has just been forced to kill a rival classmate, and she is suffering from guilt.  She is terrified of being caught.  She doesn’t know who she can trust.  When she stumbles across a bigger plot to bring down the President, she’s not sure she can carry out the mission she’s been given.  Her task, handed to her by the President?  Kill the ardent supporters of the Testing in order to end the cruel tradition once and for all.

Setting aside the implausibility of the plot – I don’t think many world leaders would task a teenager with offing their opponents – Graduation Day is immensely readable.  Getting inside Cia’s head as she works through the weighty issues confronting her makes this a hard book to put down.  Everyone has an agenda, and you are left guessing who is trustworthy the entire time.  While Cia desperately tries to keep up appearances that she’s just an ordinary university student,  she must decide which side she is on.  Does she do as the President has asked, and commit morally abhorrent acts to end the Testing?  Can she murder someone in cold blood?  Is there anyone she can recruit to assist her in her deadly task?

Most of the plot revolves Cia’s preparations to carry out her new assignment.  She wonders if there is another way to accomplish the end goal, without having to take lives.  Do the people on the President’s list really deserve to die?  What happens if she’s caught?  Is she willing to die herself, to end the Testing?  As she gathers followers and intelligence about the Testing, the people on the list, and even the President, she questions whether she can end the pointless deaths of hundreds of the brightest young people the Commonwealth has to offer.  But when she learns what it means to be redirected, watch out!  Cia’s resolve is firmly solidified, and nothing will keep her from her final goal.

I thought the ending was a bit of a muddle, and I’m not convinced that conditions will really improve for the citizens  Cia fought so hard for.  I don’t understand why Dr Barnes acted as he did; there must have been some other way to prove his point, without resorting to the pact he made with his political rivals.  I also found the way the Commonwealth seemed to exist within a vacuum problematic.  There are little tidbits dropped about world powers outside of the Commonwealth, but nothing concrete or substantial.  Surely there would still be some kind of diplomatic presence from other countries in Tosu City, if only to keep an eye on the government and make sure they weren’t planning to destroy the world again.  The politics didn’t really work for me, though I still found Cia’s predicament engaging and difficult to step away from.

If you enjoyed the first two books in the series, you will also love Graduation Day.  Cia really comes into her own as she puzzles out the plots swirling around her, makes her plans to end the Testing, and agonizes over who she can really trust.  I really enjoyed this journey with her; it was just as nerve-wracking for me trying to figure out who deserved to be trusted, and who didn’t.


Title: GRADUATION DAY (The Testing #3)

Author: Joelle Charbonneau

Publisher: HMH Books for Young Readers

Pub. Date: June 17, 2014

Pages: 304

Find it: Amazon, Barnes & Noble, Goodreads

In book three of the Testing series, the United Commonwealth wants to eliminate the rebel alliance fighting to destroy The Testing for good. Cia is ready to lead the charge, but will her lethal classmates follow her into battle?

She wants to put an end to the Testing

In a scarred and brutal future, The United Commonwealth teeters on the brink of all-out civil war. The rebel resistance plots against a government that rules with cruelty and cunning. Gifted student and Testing survivor, Cia Vale, vows to fight.

But she can’t do it alone.

This is the chance to lead that Cia has trained for – but who will follow? Plunging through layers of danger and deception, Cia must risk the lives of those she loves–and gamble on the loyalty of her lethal classmates.

Who can Cia trust?

The stakes are higher than ever-lives of promise cut short or fulfilled; a future ruled by fear or hope–in the electrifying conclusion to Joelle Charbonneau’s epic Testing trilogy. Ready or not…it’s Graduation Day.

The Final Test is the Deadliest!

About Joelle:

Ever since I can remember I loved telling stories. As I grew up, I started performing those stories on the stage. Creating vivid characters and singing wonderfully complex songs were my passion. I graduated from Millikin University with a Bachelors Degree in Vocal Performance and then continued onto DePaul University for my Masters Degree in Opera Performance. From there I went onto perform across the Chicagoland area in a variety of Operas, Operettas and Musicals. I also started teaching acting classes and private voice lessons to pass my passion along to the next generation.

Not exactly the path you’d expect a writer to take.

I’d never dreamed of writing a novel. But I loved to read. Then one day I had an idea and I started to write. I found my passion for creating characters lived on the page as well as the stage. It is my hope that the characters I’ve created resonate with you and make you smile.

I still teach voice lessons and sing for the occasional professional event. But the rest of my time is spent with my husband and son while dreaming up new and interesting stories. I hope that someday I hear yours.


Giveaway Details:

3 sets of the complete series along with a Graduation Day pen and a T-Shirt. US Only

1 T-Shirt US ONLY

a Rafflecopter giveaway

Tour Schedule:

Week One:

6/9/2014- NightlyReadingReview

6/10/2014- The Book CellarGuest Post

6/11/2014- Curling Up With A Good BookReview

6/12/2014- FiktshunInterview

6/13/2014- Manga Maniac CaféReview

Week Two:

6/16/2014- Magical Urban Fantasy ReadsGuest Post

6/17/2014- K-booksReview

6/18/2014- Tales of the Ravenous Reader Interview

6/19/2014- Parajunkee’s ViewReview

6/20/2014- Two Chicks on BooksGuest Post